hell and heaven

Anyone with the straight dope on hell and heaven?

Seeing that religion is with us and affects our existence no end, and considering that it ultimately has to do with people getting to heaven and avoiding hell, please tell me about hell and heaven, anyone out there.

I certainly want to get to heaven and avoid hell, of course.

Susma Rio Sep

There is no straight dope on heaven and hell beyond the fact that their existence has not (and probably can not) be demonstrated.

Well, it doesn’t affect my existence beyond my having to interact with religious people. However, since religion is rarely the topic of interaction, it’s safe to say that religion does not affect my existence very much at all.

Not all religions believe in a heaven or hell.

That’s only because other people have told you that heaven is desirable and that hell is a Bad Place. The question is, where did they get their information from? Where did their source get its information from?

If, for the sake of argument, we assume that heaven and hell are real, then, by their very definitions, no one has ever seen either of them first hand and lived to report back to the mortal realm.

I would guess that the only Straight Dope on heaven and hell would be concerning the origins of the belief that they exist.

That’s very instructive, Joe. Thanks a lot. And God bless you (even though a lot of churches tell people that He’s the author of heaven and hell).

Susma Rio Sep

It has been a long time since I read it, but IIRC, in his book Heaven and Hell, Aldous Huxley speculated that after death a person comes into the presence of God and sees and understands things as they truly are, with delusion or distraction. In consequence a person feels remorse and shame for their moral shortcomings but, so long as they weren’t so steeped in sin that they actually severed their ties with God, His all-encompassing love permits one to overcome such feelings, and enter into a perfect, peaceful harmony with Him. If, on the other hand, one has actually become removed from the love of God, this rejection results in an unendurable wretchedness. These, then, are the states of Heaven and Hell.

Although Huxley was a Hindu, he acknowledged that this theory was consistent with the views of Roman Catholics and some other mainstream Christians.

One point of interest is how widely different denominations which accept the existence of Hell vary in their opinions as to how many people end up there.

The principle fun of religion for some people lies in figuring out who is going to Hell, and in feeling smug about it.

One of the outstanding trends in American religion during the 20th Century was the growth of acceptance in a belief called Dispensationalism by Evangelical Christians, and the growing consolidation of Pentocostals and Evangelicals. A result of this, so near as I can interpret, was a religious movement in which a good many adherants had pretty managed to develop a strain of Christianity in which God does not value or reward ethical good and holiness is seperate from morality; for an example, recall Larry Flynt’s period as a pornographer–but a Born-Again one.

With the Born-Again a distinct minority in society, the people at least some of their number figured were bound for Hell were truly legion.

I recall that shortly after actor Henry Fonda died I was speaking to an Evangelical Christian who worked at a local homeless shelter. She said she found it sad that, despite all of his talent and success, Henry Fonda had not “died saved”–that is, was burning in unending torment in Hell for eternity.

I asked her how she knew this. She repled: “well, he couldn’t have been saved, or his daughter wouldn’t have all those opinions she does”.

Scripture advises that God judges by His standards, and not Man’s. If so, maybe we should be grateful.

Sometime back in the 1990’s a report drafted by the Southern Baptist Convention was leaked to the press. It was a census of sorts, calculating how many people in The United States were going to burn in Hell forever. IIRC, among other things, it counted how many Jews lived in the country. The final number ran into the many tens of millions.

In a similar vein, prior to his involvement in sex scandals, religious broadcaster Jimmy Swaggart devoted two whole episodes of his national TV show to explaining why Mother Theresa of Calcutta was going to rot in Hell forever. The sex scandals–giving money to unattractive whores and then not actually having sex with them–ruined Swaggart. His denunciations of Mother Theresa for merely being moral and not affiliated with the right team–hardly raised an eyebrow.

This emphasis on affiliation over actions helps to explain why Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan, the adherants of Ayn Rand, and a great many extremely conservative Evangelical Christians can hold remarkably similar on issues such as welfare.

By contrast, The Roman Catholic Church, it is said, has only twice expressed an official opinion that somebody has probably been damned for eternity. One was an Italian nobleman in the Rennaissance who was notorious as a murdering pervert–I don’t recall his name, and he is no longer a particularly well-remembered figure in history. The other was Judas Iscariot. By contrast, some Orthodox Churches list Judas as a saint, figuring that his suicide was by way of an act of contrition or atonement.

Mark Twain once said that whichever he was going, he was sure he knew a lot of people who were already there.

from another message board.

okay, i’m guessing i’ve sent this thread on its way to Great Debates.

General Questions is for questions with factual answers. Great Debates is for debates.

Please read the forum descriptions.

I’ll move this to Great Debates for you.

Off to Great Debates.

DrMatrix - GQ Moderator

woo-hoo! go me!

The ancient Egyptians were possibly the first to suggest that the worshippers of the (right) God would get preferential treatment in the afterlife, i.e., the best real estate (near the river).

The Greeks originally held that only supernatural beings or great heroes/sinners were punished in the afterlife. The Titans were imprisoned in the deep pit of Tartarus for rebelling against Zeus, Prometheus got his liver gnawed eternally for bringing fire to humans. Ordinary folk died and became “shades”, pale shadows of humanity. In the Odyssey, the shades are unable even to speak until Odysseus has some animals slaughtered and the shades come and drink the blood.

In the later Aeneid of Virgil (1st century BC IIRC), there has been some “damnation creep”, and even ordinary folk who were bad boys and girls get punishment after death. The up side is that philosophers and/or those who get the proper initiations into mystery cults while alive get to go to the Elysian Fields, where they hang out with Plato and Socrates and drink the good stuff. If you didn’t qualify for either category you took a bath in the river Lethe, which made you forget everything, then you got reincarnated for another try. (Sounds very Buddhist, no?)

Jews borrowed some of these ideas, and probably some from Zoroastrianism, and came up with the Last Judgement, when God would bring the righteous (i.e., the Jews) into power and torch everyone else. Christians took over this concept, which the Jews later dropped. (Actually, only some Jews had ever subscribed to it. The Sadducees, for example, didn’t believe in life after death at all. )

I hope this helps you avoid one, or attain the other, Susma Rio Sep!

Personally, I rather like the idea of breaking back down into my constituent atoms and dispersing into the universe. Becoming coffee beans and cats and stars and all those other things I love.

The idea of heaven being a place of virgins and earthly pleasures (ala Islam) seems cheap to me. Why bother, just be a slutty glutton now. The idea of closeness/knowing God (ala Christianity) scares me, because there’s no way in my mind to make “God” a legitimate existance with all the crazy characteristics that get assigned to it. Especially if there’s Hell! What?! What is that, from our all powerful all knowing benevolent God? O_o

A big turnoff when I was in Catholic schools was when I asked (and I was… 11 maybe?) “If someone I love goes to Hell, and I go to Heaven, doesn’t that mean Heaven will be imperfect for me because they aren’t there?” and the priest flippantly replies “No, because you’d see the error of their ways” and continues on to the next kid asking if God has a beard. Nevermind the impending religious crisis that question should have signaled him I was going to have! (please, don’t anyone feel the need to explain his answer to me- I know what he probably meant in his Christian Love, and it still sounds like a load of bullsch.)

So really… what I’m riding on is being a good person. I don’t cheat on my boyfriend, I don’t kick puppies, I didn’t work for Enron. If there is somewhere I’m going after this, I sure hope the judging goes on how I lived my life, and not what beliefs I held.

Is this the same Henry Morris who knows squat about evolution demonstrating that he knows the square root of squat about cosmology?

To start with, what is this distant sheet of light? The CBR is hardly that, but just the remnants of the big bang, just as predicted by theory. (And the lumps in it are just as predicted by the inflation theory.)

I’d say only those who have trouble adding to 20 without taking off their shoes would talk about “sheer mathematical manipulation” as if this were not valid. String theory, by the way, does not claim that there should be observational evidence, in fact it says that the energy needed to break things down enough to observe strings is far greater than we can now generate. I don’t see how that is a negative.

Sheesh, I thought we were fighting ignorance, not embracing it with both arms and giving it a big wet kiss.

Yeah, Voyager, I meant to say something about that article… thanks for reminding me :wink:

when people NEED to stick “Dr.” in front of the authors name, it’s usually a sign the article is… to put it politely… to be taken with a grain of salt?

>Anyone with the straight dope on hell and heaven?

Heaven is any place with the straight dope. THere is no straight dope in hell.

I’m an Orthodox Christian and have never heard of this. What specific “Orthodox” Churches list Judas Iscariot as a saint? He is not honored by the Greeks, the Russians, the Romanians, the Serbs, the Cypriots, the Syrians, not by Jerusalem nor Alexandria, nor have I ever come across any Copt nor Ethiopian who would venerate Judas Iscariot.

There is St. Jude, who is also called Judas, Thaddeus, and Libbeus, but he was not Judas Iscariot. There is Judas the Son of James, who is also not Judas Iscariot.

So what “Orthodox” Church considers Judas Iscariot to be a “saint”?

The word HELL is not in the Bible.

The Old Testament is Hebrew, the New Testament is Greek. The Bible actually says SHEOL, HADES and GEHENNA. See Cruden’s Concordance, look up HELL.

This underground fire and brimstone crap sounds like it comes from a people that lived near volcanos. There are volcanos in Italy, the center of the Roman empire. No volcanos in the Holy Land.

try OLD SOULS by Tom Shroder

Dal Timgar

As we say in the Church of the SubGenius, “The difference between Hell and Heaven is which end of the pitchfork you’re on!”

www.subgenius.com Praise “Bob”!

There ain’t no heaven and there ain’t no hell.

True. Especially true when the degree is fishy, as in this case.